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Traveling Dance Company Offers Insights From Their Art to Louisville Youngsters

An array of young dancers arched their backs Monday and propelled their limbs into tightly wound sweeping motions while lowering into plies—one eye on the mirror, another on Lee Duveneck.Duveneck, a member of the Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company, turned to the YPAS students.“It’s a selfish act to dance, but that selfish act goes out to the audience, yeah? So connect to the pleasure,” he said. The Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company is a six-member subset of the Paul Taylor Dance Company that focuses on nationwide outreach through contemporary dance performance and instruction.Their stop on Monday was in Louisville at the Youth Performing Arts School, where they taught a master class. They also gave an introductory movement workshop with children at Our Lady of Peace, a private psychiatric hospital.Ruth Andrien, the rehearsal director for the 2 Company, gave a brief history of Paul Taylor, whohas been choreographing for over 60 years.Taylor originally trained with Martha Graham, the world-renowned modern dancer and choreographer, and was a Graham dancer for six years while simultaneously working on his own choreography.Andrien said Taylor eventually broke away from Graham-style dancing, and is said to be the father of post-modernism in dance. His early concerts dealt with the questions of “what is it to dance?” and “what is choreography?”“He has always been very distinct, following his own palate. For him, modern dance is whatever he chooses it to be,” she said.Taylor 2 was founded in 1994, because Paul wanted people to have access to seeing his work and to also dance his style across the nation if they did not have the budget to bring in the larger company. It is a group of six dancers chosen for their particular talent at his style of dance.Nick Covault, the programming manager for the Kentucky Center for the Arts, had booked the full company for a performance on Jan.30.But thanks to the vision and generosity of Paul Taylor Dance Company themselves, they had the foresight to email us and say, ‘Hey, our 2 company is going to be in Louisville on Oct. 6. Would you be interested in making some great things happen while they are there?’” Covault said.Paul Taylor 2’s community focus meshed well with the vision of arts presented of the Kentucky Center.“A part of the mission of the Kentucky Center is not to just present amazing artists on our stages, but to take them beyond our stages out into the community,” Covault said. “And one thing that I love about the Paul Taylor Dance Company, at least in the way I’ve gotten to know them so far, is that they are very open to creating what that outreach can be, and kind of meeting you in the middle.”Andrien said the company had danced in many unusual environments—women’s shelters, school gymnasiums, and even a 3-foot corridor in a children’s cancer wing—all in order to bring the joy of dance to those who may not otherwise experience it.Alana Allende, a member of the company, said dancing is something universally powerful and is an ideal means of helping people express themselves regardless of culture. For example, the company once taught seven classes at an elementary school."We had some underprivileged kids, some with disabilities," Allende said. "And to see the joy that they got to move their bodies in different ways, and for them to move to music that they’re not used to, to hear counts and to be on a rhythm, and to see their fellow classmates and not be intimidated or feel insecure—it is a really beautiful thing to see."Her fellow dancer, Hank Bamberger continued: “I think it really translates and takes on a lot of different shapes and forms. We went to India once and taught in orphanages to underprivileged girls with no families, some were even beaten. And to see how it completely altered their state of mind and take them to a new place was a really beautiful thing.”Correction: Because of a submission error, a previous version of this story incorrectly had a photo of the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

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